Last week, City Realty announced that the Allston Square residential and retail redevelopment project is back on track after a redesign addressed community concerns.
Following the submission of the initial plans for the development of six buildings clustered at the intersection of Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue, City Realty, the Boston development company behind the project, had to rethink its options for creating this residential and retail complex.
“We officially filed plans in the spring of 2018, and then followed up with robust community outreach,” said Josh Fetterman, the company’s director of project development.
“By fall, we had made some big changes based on what the community was telling us,” he continued during a phone interview. “One thing we heard was that people really liked the curved yellow-brick building at 334. You can see it from the Pike, and people were just used to seeing it in their daily lives. It was certainly a memorable building for residents, who wanted it preserved.”
That building, the Allen Building at 334 Cambridge St., was the former headquarters of Jack Young Auto Parts. Another notable building, Allston Hall at 4 Braintree St. will also be preserved.
“We wanted to preserve that building from the get-go. It was built in the 1800s and has great masonry details,” Fetterman said.
In order to create a uniform look throughout the project, the two preservation buildings will inform the overall look of the four new buildings.
“We will play off some of the design features of the preservation buildings,” Fetterman said. “The architect will take certain elements and translate them to the other buildings to tie it all together.”
With the new buildings,” he added, “we had thought maybe we could replicate the older ones, but it’s very hard to do that and be authentic.”
Upon completion, the project will add 22,120 square feet of new retail space and 341 condominiums and rental apartments, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms.
Another unanimous request that came up at the community outreach sessions was to introduce more green space to what is a barren urban stretch.
The new plans include 46 new street trees (the area has only one) and wider sidewalks (giving 6,000 square feet of community space), as well as outdoor communal gathering spaces with public art installations.
“It was a good process and definitely constructive criticism,” Fetterman said. “The neighborhood had been dark for some time. People seemed pleased we would want to develop there.”
City Realty’s other Allston-Brighton developments include a condominium on Market Street in Brighton, which should be completed next month, and a project on Leo Birmingham Parkway, which is still in the approval process.
The next stage for Allston Square is to present the revised plans to the Impact Advisory Group in September. This stage will examine public benefits, including transportation impacts: Allston Square is a short walk to the Boston Landing MBTA Commuter Rail Station and the MBTA Green Line, and will include storage for 300 bicycles.
If everything is approved, construction is expected to begin next year.
“It will be staggered and in two phases,” Fetterman said. “Two buildings will go up in spring 2020, and two more will follow that, with the preservation buildings worked on alongside both. Completion for everything is projected to be the first quarter 2022.”
The final piece of the project will be incorporating public art installations, including sculptures and murals.
“We will work with local artists for these permanent installations,” said Fetterman, nothing that those prettying finishing touches are a long way off.
“We just have to get there first,” Fetterman said. “It is a slow and deliberate process.”